Chris’s Corner: Ending One Party Rule in the Falls

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Chris Voccio is a Niagara Falls City Council member and can be reached at


By: Chris Voccio

Niagara Falls City Councilman

With the primary elections behind us, and with an unusual mayoral race ahead that could give us a mayor elected by a slim plurality, my focus during the general election will be to help bring about historic change on the City Council.

It’s important to understand that the City Council, the legislative body of the city, has been under One Party Rule for decades. Someone told me it was back in 1964 that we last had a Council with a Republican majority, others have said it was back in the 1980’s. Whichever is correct, it is fair to say that the Democratic Party has controlled the Council for more than a generation. For decades.

Drive along Pine Avenue or Niagara Street. Drive up and down Highland Avenue or Main Street or Hyde Park Boulevard. If you like what you see, if you’re happy with the progress the city has made with One Party Rule, then it may make sense to keep that party in control of the City Council. If you like the condition of our city streets, the sidewalks and the business climate, then keep the current majority party in charge.

Please understand that since the casino opened, the city has received $250 million in casino revenue. While some want to blame the mayor alone for the way those casino dollars were spent, the mayor can’t buy a pack of chewing gum with city funds unless it’s approved by the City Council. The same City Council that has been controlled by One Party Rule. For decades.

So as you drive along the city’s streets, if you are unhappy with the way things look, please remember that $250 million, over and above the city’s regular budget, has been pumped into the city. Are you happy with the way things turned out?

Whatever you think about the two major political parties at the national level, clearly it’s unhealthy to have one party control the keys to government for so long. We’re now witnessing the issues associated with One Party Rule in Albany, and it’s only been six months of one party dominance there. Let’s hope that it doesn’t last for decades, as it has here in the Falls.

Whichever party you belong to, and whichever way you normally vote, I’m urging you to consider voting for two Republicans in this City Council election in November, incumbent Kenny Tompkins and political newcomer John Spanbauer.

Give Republicans a majority on the City Council and judge us accordingly. While state government is completely controlled by the other party, you’ll be putting Niagara Falls in the hands of local people who will put taxpayers first, all while engaging with our Democrat colleagues in a healthy relationship that puts the city’s best interests first, regardless of who our next mayor is.

Republicans don’t always agree with one another. Councilman Tompkins and I often go separate ways, and that’s a healthy part of our system. So by voting for two Republicans, you’re not voting for a monolith with a singular agenda. We’re all free-thinking individuals. But we will represent a change from decades of One Party Rule.

Let me end by saying I am bullish on Niagara Falls. While there are an abundance of challenges facing the city, we are blessed with an abundance of opportunities. On January 1st we will have a new mayor and one new council member. I believe we will eventually come to terms with the Senecas and build a new and meaningful relationship, and this will result in additional revenues that, if invested wisely, could help us take advantages of the opportunities in front of us.

New leadership, along with a little luck and much-needed help from God Almighty, will lead to better days ahead.


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